Category Archives: Food
Well, I’m off to a dubious start already on my New Year’s resolutions.
1st Resolution: Be on time with my commitments. Ok, so my first blog of 2012 is a week and a day late. Not good.
2nd Resolution: Go to the gym at least 3 times a week. I’ve been once since Jan 1 and I sort of waved over the machines on that visit.
3rd Resolution: Eat better; do a juice cleanse. Does wine count as a juice? Let me wipe my fingers from the chicken finger grease before I wreck my keyboard and write more excuses.
4th Resolution: Watch less tv; be more productive; go to the library; read more. How can I when I’m in the middle of Top Chef Texas, Walking Dead, Modern Family? No to mention that new episodes of Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain are just coming on! Do magazines count as reading?
5th Resolution: Learn more. Ok, let’s stop with this one.
As you may have read in a previous blog, I was ranting about having to go back and study for my CSW and how I thought I gave that up in college, and never wanted to look back – forgoing any more “tests and exams” in the future. Oh how I hated that stress! Well, now looking back, I was truly productive during the studying! I learned a lot, found myself covering 3 of my 4 resolutions above because of it, and that was without even trying. So, with a little discipline/self control, my commitment is to learn a new language. I’m traveling to Italy in the summer, so I figure, why not Italian? Being in the wine industry, I love our wines; no doubt, but what makes me appreciate it more is knowing what else is out there, including the Italian stuff. So here’s a resolution I intend to keep; and I know that it will help me with all the others. Check back with me in a few months; I’ll tell you if Rosette Stone is really worth the money. Ciao.
For those of you on my Christmas shopping list, a word to the wise: resist my constant requests to give me your Christmas wish list. If you give me your list, you’ll get something predictable. But if you don’t, you’ll stress me out and I’ll keep thinking about an ideal gift, wait until the last few shopping days and buy something beyond my budget just to get it over with.
So yes, I’ve just finished my holiday shopping, and those who procrastinated with sending me their wish list are the true benefactors of a highly expensive gift. Will they like it? Hard to say. The tough thing for me is, most of my friends love Montelena, but that’s too easy of a gift from me. That’s the low hanging fruit of shopping: too easy, too predictable. They’d love it, sure; but they also know I didn’t put a lot of effort into shopping beyond the workplace!
And you’d think that all of us working here at the Chateau are tired of the good juices. Well, we had our holiday luncheon last week with the (in)famous White Elephant gift exchange. Who would’ve thought it would be all the good boozy stuff that people kept stealing…. Nothing warms the soul more than the gift of booze, unless it was stolen from your co-workers.
Anyways, Merry Christmas to all…eat well, drink well; then we’ll all think about a good New Year’s resolution after we indulge.
I just spent a week on vacation after finishing another high season here at the Chateau and it was just what the doctor ordered; Thanksgiving in Boise, Idaho with some of my closest friends. I often get a funny reaction when I tell people I’m going to Boise for vacation. The consistent reaction I get is, “Why!?” My answer is always the same, “Have you ever been to Boise?” And the answer from all those who ask is always, “No.”
My friends have lived there for 20 years now, have built a beautiful home, have started a business, and know just about everyone you need to know in town. Boise is a city with a small town feel: it’s comfortable, easy to navigate and has great food and shopping. Did I mention the great food?
For breakfast, Goldie’s is a must: corned beef hash, farm fresh eggs – ohhh sooo good. Lunch/dinner: Fork was a standout; I went there twice in one week. I was there once for a burger (they use fresh brisket in their meat) and the other time for perhaps the best BLT (with egg on top) I’ve ever had. We were tempted to go back a third time! The only downfall there? No Chateau Montelena … Keep going back; we’ll get them to carry it!
For wine shopping, the Co-Op is as good a wine shop as I’ve seen in the best Urban cities. The selection from country to country, price point – all great. And, yes, they do carry CM!
Moral of this story: Before you poopoo a city you’ve never visited, give it a shot! Sometimes you just have to get out of your vacation comfort zones (i.e. New York, Hawaii, San Francisco) and head for a small town for true Americana.
As George noted last week, Thanksgiving is finally here! And I can hardly believe it – feels like it was NYE 2011 just the other day! Regardless, it’s great for me because Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday. Any day that I can eat delicious food to my heart’s content, spend time with my favorite people and drink amazing wines is a great day by me. This year, I’ll be attending two Thanksgiving feasts which is pretty much double the fun. I’ll really have to pace myself, that’s for sure.
This year, I’m really looking forward to dessert (which probably comes as no surprise to those who know me). I’ve found a scrumptious Paula Deen recipe laden with cream cheese, pumpkin and sugar that I’m hoping will take top prize in the annual dessert competition. As a bonus, it’s an homage to one of my best friends (and college roommate) who used to bake a traditional St. Louis-style gooey butter cake every time she went home for the holidays – and brought back the ooey, gooey, goodness when she returned to school each January. Needless to say, that cake was always devoured within about an hour after her arrival back on campus…it’s just THAT good. Now I’m trying my baking hand at it with the addition of pumpkin. I fully expect that to tip this dessert off the charts. Wish me luck in the competition.
As for the wine? Guess it’s time to raid the cellar and pick out a few special bottles. It’s always a treat to open those bottles that I’ve been saving for a special occasion – what better occasion than a fantastic feast with family and friends?
So this year, this Thanksgiving, I’m incredibly thankful for the people that make me laugh and smile each and every day and an opportunity to have them all together at one dinner table. Of course, I’m also thankful for great wine and the occasion to break out those special bottles and for Paula Deen and her indulgent sweets! I can barely wait for Thursday.
Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones. Open that special bottle and enjoy!
It just doesn’t feel right that Thanksgiving is next week. We’re just not in the holiday mode yet (despite the fact that the weather, tv commercials and retail stores are already getting Christmas into our heads). I remember back in the days when it used to be after Thanksgiving that we saw the holiday transformation happen.
Now is a good time to reflect on what to serve with your meals. I’m seeing more and more households move away from turkey, but whatever you choose to serve, be the hero and make a good wine pairing. A lot of us get caught into that ” I don’t want to bring great wine to be wasted on my aunt, who would just throw an ice cube in it anyways.” For me, being in the industry, I’m expected to bring good stuff, so I work to uphold my reputation. I’ve turned a lot of wine cooler/boxed wine people into budding wine snobs – they hate and love me at the same time…they can never go back to the bad stuff.
So, I encourage you to bring something good to the table. Educate; spread the wealth. If, after pouring Aunt Mary a great Zin or Chard and she tastes it then STILL reaches for the ice cubes…well, then she just gets jug wines from now on.
Save the date, Bay Area friends! On November 17th we’ll be at San Francisco hot-spot ZeroZero (826 Folsom) for a special Happy Hour appearance. Featuring some classic Montelena wines, and a few special surprises, it’s an event not-to-be-missed. Join us for some sips of your favorite Montelena wine or a new-to-you Montelena wine and stay for a scrumptious pizza hot out of the oven and cap off the evening with a sweet treat of soft-serve. It’s the best of both worlds: pizza and wine. We’ll be there from 6:00 to 9:00 – stop by and see us!
If you don’t have plans yet for the last weekend in January 2012, make some – quickly – and join us for House Party 2012. If you love wine, you can rest assured that we’ll be pulling out some incredible bottles from our cellar: current release wines, winery-only-wines (those that you can find only here at the winery) and even some special, older bottles that we’ve been saving for a special occasion. We’ll also have slow-roasted meats and the musical talents of the Bay Area’s own beloved Wonderbread 5 (if you know this band, you know we’re going to have a blast!). So I hope I’ve given you enough information to make it an easy decision that you need to get tickets and come party with us, but I understand you may be undecided about whether or not to stay here in Calistoga for the weekend or head back to the city. To make the decision a little easier, we’ve partnered with a few local hotels so you can not only enjoy our party, but you can enjoy all of Calistoga, too. Mention the “Chateau Montelena House Party” when you call to make reservations at either Stevenson Manor or Solage Calistoga.
So get your tickets, mark your calendar and come to party with us on January 28th. Then stay and take advantage of all that Calistoga has to offer – great food, mudbaths and spa treatments, fantastic wine and a down-home vibe that makes everyone feel right at home.
Wanting to pull out that 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet at sunset for friends? A perfect small bite to pair with this sumptuous red is a plate of warm gougères just out of the oven. Gougères traditionally are made with a choux pastry base. But who wants to fuss with making the pasty when guests are on the way over? Puff pastry sheets fit the bill. The versatility of this product should never be underestimated! The pastry sheets thaw quickly and can make easy work of impressing family and friends.*
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and center a rack in the oven.
Thaw one sheet of puff pastry in fridge or on the counter as directed on the package.
On a lightly floured stone counter top, roll the pastry to an 8 x 12 inch rectangle.
In two separate bowls, mix:
-one egg white and 2 T. milk
-any mixture of 3 T ea: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried thyme, dried marjoram, madras curry, dried dill, minced dried onion or shallot. Put together what pleases you. Add to this bowl: 1/3 c. grated gruyere or dry Vella Jack cheese, and a dash of black pepper or cayenne.
Brush the rolled square of pastry with the egg white mixture; then liberally sprinkle the mixture of herbs, seeds and cheese over the pastry. Press gently with your rolling pin, using a light touch.
Using a very small cookie cutter (1.25 inch diameter, or the top of a shot glass), stamp out the shapes. This should yield at least 2 dozen gougères.
Bake on a silpat mat or ungreased cookie sheet for 18-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden. These yummy bites freeze beautifully for up to a month…cool completely before wrapping and freezing. Reheat frozen gougères @ 400 degrees on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes, until warm and slightly crisp.
*Tip: Keep the boxes of puff pastry frozen until you’re ready to use. You can put a box in the fridge up to a day ahead if you like, but after a few days the sheets will develop a sour taste and will fail to rise properly.
So this Thursday, Oct 13th, at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square in San Francisco, we’ll be celebrating the unveiling of our new tasting room in the city which is situated in the lobby of this historic hotel. This hotel has a special place in my heart for a few reasons:
1:I used to work there.
2:It defines San Francisco and its storied past.
3:There are some wonderful people who work at that hotel; and have so through decades.
US Presidents, foreign dignitaries, movie stars, sports teams have all passed through the hotel’s doors. So, it was only natural that one of the historic wineries of California should partner with this hotel to be the first (and only?) winery to have a remote tasting room in the city. The party will celebrate the opening in style with current and library wines, an amazing array of canapes from the Culinary team, and all our closest friends at the winery.
Sorry to say it’s by invitation only, but if you have one of the golden tickets, be sure to RSVP now before it’s too late (which it will be tomorrow morning). The tasting room is open to the public from 1-8pm Wed-Sat. If you’re one of our Cellarmaster club members, your benefits will apply at our new location just as if you were visiting us here at the Chateau! Be sure to say hi to Ryan or Jonnie when you stop by…
We’ve been hard at work planning a new bash for the New Year. Introducting: House Party 2012 – Rock & Rotisserie. On January, 28, 2012, we’ll open up the Chateau for our first-ever House Party, where our guests will have the run of the place (and the first glimpse at our newly renovated cellar). Upstairs, downstairs – there will be food and wine around every corner. We’ll be featuring slow-cooked rotisserie meats (think: pig, lamb, poultry and beef) to enjoy along with the Montelena classics, a special collection of older vintage wines from our library, and even a few limited-production winery-only wines. Join us to eat, drink and be merry and then stay to party the night away, dancing to the music of San Francisco’s Wonderbread 5, at the first great party of the New Year. Rock and Rotisserie 2012 - we hope to see you there.
Tickets are on sale now – reserve yours today. It’s a perfect gift for someone special; a perfect occasion to celebrate once all the holiday parties have died out; a perfect excuse to come enjoy the beautiful Napa Valley for a weekend getaway; a perfect opportunity drink some great wine, dance to your favorite 80′s and 90′s hits and be merry. Whatever your reason for joining the party, we can’t wait to see you here!